Start with Wonder! Begin by Making Observations
Help students build background knowledge and skills by simply observing the seasonal changes that are taking place all around them. Have them pay attention to the position of the sun in the sky at different times of the day. Ask questions that spark their curiosity as they sketch what they see. Begin recording daily sunrise and sunset times. As students examine the sunrise/sunset data, have them calculate changes in photoperiod. (Photoperiod is the length of time between sunrise and sunset.)
- How do students explain the changes in day length? Their explanations will reveal what they know and what they are ready to discover about the relationship between sunlight and seasonal change.
Ask Questions and Propose Possible Explanations
Based on the observations made and data collected, encourage students to ask questions and write about what is happening and why. Keep a list of students' questions and proposed explanations to spark inquiry, discussion, and research. Check out our list of questions to help you get started. List of BIG questions:
- What causes day and night?
- Why are the seasons changing now?
- What is the connection between sunlight and seasons?
Expand Your View: Explore the Season Simulator
Introduce students to the Season Simulator by simply asking them to explore the features and functions of this valuable learning tool. Watch and listen as they discover how to move different parts and run the animation. To help students get orientated, challenge them set the date bar at the bottom of the simulator to the time of the fall equinox in North America (September 22nd). Their questions will reveal where to begin with more guided discovery. In future countdowns and updates, watch for our Exploration Challenges, a Teacher Guide with activities to use with the Season Simulator. For now, just explore!